The Buffalo Sabres have an organization with a pool of prospects ranked by some as the best in the National Hockey League, but that may pose a challenge to GM Kevyn Adams next season as young players vy for jobs and those with expiring contracts may be deemed expendable and including in trades.
Victor Olofsson gets his 24th of the season pic.twitter.com/hMBNXPR8Fs
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 10, 2023
The Athletic’s Matthew Fairburn speculated on seven current Sabres that could be on the move for various reasons. Victor Olofsson has been rumored to be on the trade block ever since being scratched late last season and his representatives reportedly expected the winger to be dealt this summer, but the Achilles injury to Jack Quinn last month may alter Buffalo’s plan to keep Olofsson until the trade deadline after Quinn returns.
The signings of Erik Johnson and Connor Clifton, along with the re-signing of Kale Clague give Adams 10 defensemen with NHL experience, which Fairburn believes makes depth defenseman Ilya Lybushkin, Jacob Bryson, Riley Stillman, and even Henri Jokiharju are potential trade bait. Buffalo’s blueline situation is fluid, with only Clifton and Mattias Samuelsson under contract past next season.
Ilya Lybushkin gets his 1st goal of the season: a shorthanded OT Winner vs Tampa 😂 pic.twitter.com/PcPockyIU5
— World Hockey Report (@worldhockeyrpt) February 24, 2023
Extensions for Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power are expected at some point before or during the season, but with the roster likely carrying a maximum of eight defensemen, Adams may have to make a preemptive move of dealing a defenseman before losing them on waivers.
The goaltending situation is well chronicled with the prospect of an inexperienced Devon Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, along with Eric Comrie fighting for two spots. Adams has expressed confidence that his young tandem will succeed, but if Levi and Luukkonen are the choices, they will risk losing Comrie on waivers if they try to send him down to AHL Rochester.
With goaltending a commodity, trading Comrie to a club looking for an experienced backup or to a team that loses a goalie during training camp is possible. If the goaltending struggles or the Sabres continue to have defensive issues as they did last season, the 25-year-old Luukkonen could be the price that Adams has to pay to bring in a veteran that can help Buffalo get into the postseason for the first time in 12 years.